Police Beat: Surprise pills, hairbrush handguns and poor poker

Staff writerSeptember 14, 2013 

Editor’s note: Compiled from reports to Tacoma Police.

Sept. 7: The trio of youths shared pills and attitudes and smoked weed in the parking lot. They hung out by Starbucks and hounded patrons for money. One, the oldest, flashed a big knife.

Officers answered the dispatch call and drove to the 1600 block of East 72nd Street. As they arrived, a 16-year-old in black shorts pedaled away on a bike.

Inside the coffee shop, officers spoke to a customer and a clerk. The customer pointed to a young couple in the parking lot. One was a 19-year-old man with a hat and a bulky black jacket. The other was a 15-year-old girl. The guy with the hat had the big knife, the customer said.

Officers walked over to the couple and started asking questions. The couple denied smoking weed. The guy with the hat said he didn’t have a knife; he said it belonged to the kid on the bike who just left.

An officer patted the guy down and found a prescription pill bottle with no name on it and five kinds of pills. The guy said the pills weren’t his; he said he was holding them for the kid on the bike who just left.

The guy had two active arrest warrants from Tacoma and Fife. His record listed him as a sex offender. The girl was a mystery. She said she had no identification, and she gave a name that didn’t sound right.

Officers questioned her. She said she gave the wrong birthdate the first time, but she gave the same name. It still didn’t sound right.

Meanwhile, the kid on the bike came back. Officers asked him about the knife. He said it was in his pocket. Officers took it and cuffed him. The knife was spring-loaded, triggered by a button on the hilt.

Officers asked the kid on the bike about the pills. The kid said the older guy stole them from his room last night. The kid said the knife wasn’t his. The older guy said the kid was lying.

Officers called the kid’s mother. She said her son had several different prescriptions for ADHD. She also said her son’s friends had been stealing his medications.

The girl acted shocked when officers asked her about the other two guys. She said she met the kid on the bike yesterday. She kept giving the name that didn’t sound right. Officers checked the story and called a phone number linked to the name. A woman answered and said that name belonged to her daughter, who was home at the moment.

Officers asked to see the girl’s purse, and asked if there was anything inside that mattered. The girl let them look. A pill bottle with a ripped label fell out.

“What’s this?” the girl said. She said she didn’t know how the pills got there.

Officers booked the guy with the hat into the Pierce County Jail on the active warrants and suspicion of a drug offense.

The father of the kid on the bike arrived and helped officers sort through prescriptions. Officers gave the bike to the father, and took the kid to Remann Hall Juvenile Detention Center in Tacoma, where he was booked on suspicion of possessing a dangerous weapon, plus the drug offenses. On the way, the kid said he belonged to the Juggalo gang, and the officers were messing with the wrong people.

The girl went to Remann Hall too, booked on suspicion of drug offenses. Eventually, staffers at the detention facility figured out her real name: she was a runaway on probation. Officers called her mother to let her know.

Sept. 7: The drug debt was $75 for a handful of Percocet pills, and the Tacoma man skipped on it.

That led to a confrontation in a parking lot, a crowd cheering for a fight, a threat with a hairbrush and a call to 911.

Officer drove to the 7200 block of Pacific Avenue and spotted a group of men and women walking away from a fast-food parking lot. Another man, standing nearby, waved them down.

The man was 19, sweating and nervous. He said a big man with a beard and a black shirt came at him with balled fists while a crowd looked on. The 19-year-old said he owed money for a drug deal, and the big man wanted to get paid – plus the big man had a gun, pointed it and threatened to shoot. Along with that, the big man threatened to kill the 19-year-old’s family.

Officers checked the area and found the big man nearby with a woman. The big man was 22. Officers cuffed him and searched him. They didn’t find a gun, but they found a hairbrush in his pocket.

The big man said the victim owed $75 for a packet of pills and didn’t pay it. The big man challenged him to a fight. He admitted threatening to shoot the victim, but he said it was a ploy; he held the hairbrush up to make it look like a gun.

“I never threatened to kill him,” the big man said. “I only threatened to shoot him.”

Officers booked him into the Pierce County Jail on suspicion of felony harassment.

Sept. 7: The car looked chopped – a primer-black 1995 Honda Accord long past its best days. An officer noticed it chugging in the 3800 block of South J Street. He ran the plate, which came back clean.

The driver wore a red hat and turned his face away as the officer passed. He pulled the car to the curb and parked. Those moves were as glaring as poker tells: standard behavior for someone hoping to avoid police attention.

The officer drove past the car and circled the block. The Honda was still parked. Red Hat was walking away from it.

The officer drove to the Honda and took a look inside. The interior was a mess: damaged, half-stripped, littered with tools. The rear seat was missing. The driver’s door was unlocked and the keys were on the driver’s seat. The officer picked up the keys temporarily, and cruised down the block to Red Hat.

Red Hat was 33, 5-foot-1, 235 pounds. He wore a tank top – size XXL. He said the car belonged to his mother. He said he’d been working on it recently. He said he was just going to get his girlfriend. He said his license was suspended. That was why he pulled over.

The officer patted him down. Red Hat carried a ring of shaved keys: standard car-theft tools. The officer cuffed him, put him in the patrol car and drove back to the Honda.

Red Hat had a minor record for prior car thefts, but no active warrants. The officer started searching the car; soon another officer arrived and joined in.

During the search, Red Hat’s girlfriend arrived on foot. She asked officers not to tow the car and said she was pregnant and needed it to get to the doctor. The officer said he’d think about it after he finished searching.

Under the hood they found a lock box wrapped in a pair of XXL tank tops, wedged near the battery. The box held a handgun, a digital scale and a bag of white pills. The officer told the girlfriend he wouldn’t be releasing the car.

Red Hat said the lock box wasn’t his. The mechanic who worked on the car earlier in the week must have left it there. The officer asked if that sounded reasonable. Red Hat kept saying the box wasn’t his.

Officers ran a records check on the gun, a .38-caliber Ruger. A hit came back. The gun had been stolen from Bonney Lake.

Officers asked Red Hat if he was carrying anything else that might be dangerous or illegal. Red Hat said he was just carrying money from selling his motorcycle – about $700. Officers counted the bills; they were neatly arranged from high to low denominations. Officers booked Red Hat into the Pierce County jail on suspicion of possessing burglary tools, possessing stolen property, and suspicion of drug dealing.

Sean Robinson: 253-597-8486

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